The days and weeks after a SongwritingWith:Soldiers retreat can be a difficult time…
- Posted on Sep 22nd 2011 4:00PM by Anupa Mistry
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30 years ago, before hip-hop even had its name, what was it that you set out to do?
I definitely had a vision that I was going to be making music and spreading it around the world with respect to all the soul and funk groups that were out. And this became this culture, this movement called hip-hop.
Where do you see hip-hop in another 30 years?
Well really, we'll be traveling to other planets and vibing with the different frequencies and music tastes from other extraterrestrial beings of the universe. It's about continued exchange on this planet and beyond this planet.
How would you describe the music we hear on the radio today?
Certain radio stations, which are programming the minds of the masses, only play one style of hip-hop. But this doesn't apply to just hip-hop, it's all styles of music. In the Universal Zulu Nation we say, 'If you're going to play 365 days a year, 366 in a leap year, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, then play the old with the new, the new with the old, for it to become the true school.' We don't care if it's rap, funk, soul, classical, rock, jazz, metal, house, techno but that way you know what was there before, what's here now, and hopefully that will dictate the direction for the future.
Does popular music need to be rehabilitated?
Most definitely. Thank God for the Internet and satellite radio stations where people can listen to all styles of music, or even someone who made something on their laptop. Music has stagnated -- radio stations are playing the same 10 to 15 records over and over again. When I go to a radio station and they say they're hip-hop or R&B or something, they rush me out because I'm going to challenge them! It's like, 'Okay, you say you hip-hop so where's your Miami bass, go-go, electro-funk, reggae, jazz? Or even your DJ scratch music? Where's your international flavor?' So that's what happens: they're just playing one style of music, which is rap, and you're not giving other styles any airplay.
Would ever consider entering the commercial hip-hop world?
Why do I have to rejoin? I am hip-hop. My hip-hop is electro-funk as well as the slow-paced hip-hop. For any of them to know what it is they have to come through me, Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash. What everybody else is doing is a copy of what's been done.
Where's the most unexpected place you've found hip-hop's influence?
Well, remember, hip-hop influence can be from any style of music. Other styles are now borrowing from this tradition to make theirs funky. I see it all over the planet: from South America to Africa, Europe to Asia. It definitely did its job to reach a lot of places and it's great to see people rapping in their own language. There are DJs and events that thousands of people go to around the world. This is the thing: those events are never covered but as soon as a rapper gets in trouble that's on hip-hop. But that's just one little part of it.